Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.
Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.
Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.
Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.
As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
Caroline & Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus’s target audience was intended for middle-grade students, but I became immersed in Caroline’s emotional journey, and I’m in my 40s. Like Caroline, my father died when I was young. And like her, I carried a lot of guilt surrounding his death.
Grief is complicated at any age, but I feel kids have a more challenging time handling a personal loss because, sometimes, they aren’t able to articulate their feelings. Heck, even adults have trouble with the task.
Jeff Gunhus did an outstanding job depicting the internal struggles people of all ages face when dealing with loss.
I adored everything about Caroline & Mordecai the Gand. It made me smile, and it made me cry. Jeff Gunhus made me reflect on my father, a voice I can’t hear anymore but a face I’ll never forget.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. This book’s audience extends past middle-school. It will touch many hearts.
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)
Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade fantasy series, The Jack Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
Jeff wrote Caroline & Mordecai the Gand after receiving a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. The novella was meant as a private story for his five children on how to face grief by holding onto joy and love. He leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of Old Fox Books in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.
Sarah Redman, a bank project manager up to her neck with work, wants some adventure in her life. A career opportunity in Paris seems like a dream come true, but once she gets there nothing goes as planned. The job interview she thought she wanted falls through and her dreams about a crying dragon trouble her. To top it off, she gets lost in the tunnels of Paris with a man who attracts her more than she wants to admit.
Trainer extraordinaire, Josh Kleine, needs to pull off a successful presentation at the Paris Transportation Conference to land more clients and save his company. But strange events in the tunnels under Paris drive him to distraction and into a strange, profound sadness. In search of answers under the city, he gets trapped below ground with a gorgeous woman who he desires like none before. But will the sadness tear him apart before he can convince himself and her that love does not only exist in fairy tales?
Together they may hold the key to the strange disasters striking the City of Lights. Can Sarah unravel the secrets of the city and of her heart in time to save them all?
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
I love mythical creatures and folklore. Dragons are such imposing and awe-inspiring creatures. You think of them as fierce beasts and not ones that are weighed down by sorrow. Parisian Amour is a magical short read that shines a light on a love so strong time has no meaning. A love that defies logic.
Josh and Sarah were fated to meet. They shared a spark that has the potential to be an everlasting love.
They may not live HEA, but they sure are HFN – which I thought was a perfect ending.
On a side note: With chestnuts being a prominent word in the story, Beth created an earworm. 😀
Heart Rating System: 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) Score: ❤❤❤❤
Centuries ago, King Mavius’s spell caused destruction beyond reasoning, weaving a web around and through the souls of his knights. Even now the spell of that long dead king pulls at his descendants and Jaron must trade his books for blades when Mavius, with his knights behind him, returns from beyond the grave to reclaim his throne.
Pushing heavy tomes onto marble shelves and translating archaic text until the wee hours of the night could not prepare Jaron for the trials in store for him. After years of teaching history, he will learn that books do not always tell the truth as he becomes a pawn in a war between kings.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
If you even remotely like The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings trilogy a wee bit, then you’ll love The Soulweb. It possessed some of the same qualities as J. R. R. Tolkien’s works of art.
epic battle scenes
a ring: The Soulweb’s ring wasn’t precious, though. 😀
The Soulweb had its unique properties, which kept me engrossed in the storyline. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll attempt to keep things vague to peak your interest: Keepers of the Royal Secret, stone mage, shades, talking lion, secret passages, and lizard riders.
With everything mentioned above, how could I not be highly entertained?! How could anyone walk away from this book feeling disappointed?! I don’t think it’s possible.
Do I recommend The Soulweb to others?
OH YEAH! Most definitely!!!
Heart Rating System: 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) Score:❤❤❤❤
USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Chastain returns to the beloved world of the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles for a brand-new spellbinding adventure of elemental magic and courageous gargoyles. If you love action-packed stories filled with mythical creatures, brave heroines, and adorable sidekicks, you’ll love Deadlines & Dryads.
0.5 Deadlines & Dryads “Once in a Lifetime Question” (VIP newsletter only) 1. Leads & Lynxes (forthcoming)
Getting the scoop might cost Kylie and her gargoyle companion their lives…
Dryads are a reclusive, passive species—or they used to be. Overnight, the peaceful woodland creatures have turned violent, attacking travelers with crude weapons and whipping the trees of their grove into a ferocious frenzy.
When rumors of the dryads’ bizarre behavior reaches journalist Kylie Grayson, she pounces on the story, determined to unearth the reason behind the dryads’ hostile transformation. Accompanied by Quinn, her young gargoyle friend, Kylie plunges into the heart of the malevolent grove. But nothing she’s learned prepares her for the terrifying conflict she uncovers…
**This prequel does NOT end on a cliffhanger**
I hadn’t made it halfway down the block when I spotted my rumor scout barreling down on me. The snarl of elemental energy whipped through the air, tight bands of air and fire woven through thinner strands of earth, water, and wood, all of it holding precious information. I glanced back over my shoulder and picked up my pace. Nathan tracked my retreat, and the senior journalist’s eyes narrowed when he caught sight of my elemental creation. Damn it.
Half jogging, I met the rumor scout at the end of the block. Shaped from my magic, it honed in on me with a precision that had taken years to perfect. I shoved my hair out of the way as the bundle of magic coiled over my right ear, forming a soundproof seal against my scalp. Immediately, a stranger’s voice spoke into my ear, the words having been collected and recorded by the scout.
“. . . dryad chased me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve taken Wicker Road hundreds of times, and I’ve seen my share of dryads, but not like this.” The man’s deep voice held the accent of a Southern merchant, and he sounded out of breath. He didn’t pause to give whoever he was talking to a chance to speak, either. “The dryads looked . . . they looked . . . predatory.”
Predatory? Dryads were peaceful creatures. They lived in harmony with the trees to which their lives were bonded, and their personalities were the equivalent of an oak given mobility. They nurtured the forest and they lived quiet, hidden lives. I couldn’t even picture what a predatory dryad would look like; it was like trying to picture a hostile tree—one that had apparently chased this man.
My journalistic instincts perked up.
I had been hearing rumors about increased restlessness in the local Emerald Crown Grove dryads since the tail end of winter, which was why I’d tailored a rumor scout to seek out and record any conversations in which the word dryad was mentioned. I’d also read up on dryads at the city library, learning that their abnormal agitation could be due to an impending violent storm or a possible encroachment of a new road or predator into their grove. I’d held off pitching the story to Dahlia because I had my own, third theory that involved the timing of the dryads’ restlessness, but I’d been waiting for it to pan out.
I hadn’t even considered that the dryad story might be worthy of today’s challenge, but this new development held promise. Maybe I wouldn’t need to go to the fish market after all.
“Don’t do it,” the anxious voice continued. “You don’t want to chance—”
Claws of air magic ripped the rumor scout from my ear, tearing out a hunk of my hair.
I spun around. Nathan clutched my rumor scout in a thick lasso of air and held it suspended in front of him, studying it with avid curiosity.
It had been a few years since I had traveled this road, and I’d forgotten how quickly the city disappeared. Dense woods and the rolling hills blocked out Terra Haven’s skyline after the first two turns in the road. I wanted to run, but since I didn’t know how far we had to go, I settled on a brisk walk I could sustain for hours. Quinn half trotted at my side, moving with the liquid grace of a big cat, his rock paws making less noise than my boots. The midmorning sun slanted through the trees, heating the packed dirt beneath my feet and warming my scalp. A silent wind stirred the branches of the tall oaks on either side of the road, but not even a whisper of moving air reached ground level, and I fanned the front of my shirt to cool myself.
We’d been walking twenty minutes before I realized an unnatural silence cloaked the forest beneath the susurrus of the wind through the oak canopies. No birds sang, no crickets chirped, no small creatures stirred the underbrush or rustled through the dead leaves of the forest floor. I slowed, quieting my footsteps and straining to listen for the missing noises.
“What is it?” Quinn asked.
“It’s too quiet. I received a rumor scout before we met up, and the voice in it said he’d been chased from the grove, but there’s nothing—”
A pair of coyotes burst from the bushes ahead of us, lips snarled to reveal white canines, ears flat against their skulls. I froze for half a heartbeat, then hunkered next to Quinn’s side, drawing a hasty ward of air around us. The coyotes barely registered our presence, veering wide to gallop around us down the opposite side of the road toward Terra Haven. Quinn didn’t have time to do more than arch his wings before they raced out of sight around the bend in the road.
“Since when do coyotes use roads?” Quinn asked.
I rubbed my thumb against my tingling fingertips. “Come on; let’s find out what’s got them spoo—”
A huge buck crashed down the hill to our right, his slender legs springing over smaller bushes. His antlers caught in a low-hanging branch, and he ripped free with a snort, not slowing until he stumbled onto the road. A trio of does bounded after him, their sweat-slicked sides heaving. None gave us a second glance as they raced after the coyotes.
I spun to peer in the direction they’d come from, my curiosity pounding in time with my racing heart. When nothing else emerged, I cautiously dropped my ward.
“I don’t think that’s a normal wind,” Quinn said, studying the foliage twisting above us.
This early in spring, the leaves were bright green and not yet fully developed, but they were large enough to catch air currents and tug the branches. Only, no pattern connected the shifting limbs of one tree and the next, almost as if—
“I don’t think that’s the wind at all,” I whispered. The trees moved, but they did so of their own volition.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
If you haven’t read anything by Rebecca Chastain yet, then you are missing out on one highly creative author. Her fantasy tales have unique characters, battle scenes and plots that set her apart from other paranormal authors.
In Deadlines & Dryads, Rebecca stepped outside the paranormal norm and weaved together a storyline I haven’t read about before. She introduced to us dryads; a nymph inhabiting a forest or a tree, especially an oak tree. The dryads are in a frenzy because a sick spriggan is in their midst. That’s terrible news for a dryad because a hungry spriggan will eradicate anything in its path. To a dryad, that means they are its dinner.
To solve the issue of the spriggan, Kylie and Grant go in search of Landewednack dragon’s breath; an uncommon weapon used against a rare, extraordinary opponent. The battle against the spriggan wasn’t your typical knife, sword, guns blazing type of scenario. Their larger than life adversary used vines, roots, and pollen mist to keep them at bay.
The fight to save the dryads, the Emerald Crown Grove, is surely one you haven’t seen played out often (or ever).
Another scene you might’ve never read/watched before…… How about someone using magic to clean out the feces and bones from a harpy’s nest?
Like I stated above, Rebecca doesn’t write normal, boring stories. What she creates is memorable books that keep you coming back for more.
**FYI — What’s a sick spriggan look like? Think of a hulked out Groot (Marvel)**